For those who were paying attention Miley Cyrus displayed some capable acting chops in 2012’s LOL, holding her own opposite Demi Moore. After years of overexposure as Hannah Montana and more recently on gossip sites over things as frivolous as weight loss and haircuts (and the admittedly weightier issue of salvia smoking), it’s pretty easy to resort to pure snarkiness when discussing the former tween queen.
As it stands, Cyrus has developed into a hot as all get-out fox with a “nasty as I wanna be” attitude (gotta love those pics of her, um, servicing a phallic cake she got for her fiancé Liam Hemsworth). I don’t care what anyone says—I like this gal. For the time being, I’m willing to follow her lead—even when it takes me to middling fare like So Undercover.
Cyrus plays Molly, a young private investigator who works with her dad, Sam (Mike O’Malley). The father-daughter team, in action since Molly was 11, works relatively small-time cases like suspected infidelity. But when FBI agent Armon (Jeremy Piven) needs to send someone undercover to infiltrate a sorority, Molly hits the big time. She reluctantly accepts the assignment, mainly because her degenerate gambler father has racked up insurmountable debt. Her compensation will be enough to bail him out of trouble. So Molly becomes “Brooke” and, after a quick makeover, hits the campus. Suddenly she’s trying to maintain composure in a foreign environment while keeping tabs on Alex (Lauren McKnight), whose father is entangled with the Georgian mafia.
The major problem is, we’re supposed to buy that Molly would feel out of place in college. Sure, she missed out on “normal” adolescent life as an underage employee of her father’s, but nothing about Cyrus’ appearance or demeanor suggests that she wouldn’t fit in at a college dorm. Think of Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality and the way she transformed from an uncouth FBI agent into a plausible beauty pageant contestant. Think of Anne Hathaway before her makeover in The Princess Diaries. I’m not blaming Cyrus, I just don’t think she was allowed enough opportunity to establish herself as an all-business PI prior to her installment in the college dorm.
Eventually, much like Drew Barrymore as a high school student in Never Been Kissed, Molly befriends the other college girls. When Armon refers to one of them as a “bitch” during one of their regular briefings, Molly snaps back, “That ‘bitch’ is my sorority sister.” Molly begins taking her class work too seriously and develops a relationship with a male student, Nicholas (Josh Bowman). The specifics of her actual assignment, as well as the overall FBI sting operation headed up by Armon, are a little hazy in my mind. Surprisingly, the slightly muddy storytelling doesn’t hinder So Undercover too much. The fun, however modest, is in watching Cyrus playing a fish-out-of-water “college student” with the likes of Kelly Osbourne and Megan Park (better known as Grace in ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager).
Shot digitally, So Undercover is presented on Blu-ray by Millennium Entertainment with a 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer that looks perfectly fine. The image is crisp and free of digital artifacts. This looks every bit as a good as a direct-to-video, modestly-budgeted, recently-produced movie should. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 is equally sturdy. There’s nothing surprising about it. This is just a solid presentation of clean dialogue and relatively full-bodied pop rock songs (none of which, strangely enough, are sung by Cyrus). Most of the audio is situated up front, so don’t expect much from the rear channels. For what it is, it’s all good.
Say it ain’t so! Millennium has included zero bonus features. I wonder if anyone tried to get Cyrus for an audio commentary? Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Oh well. If you want to see Cyrus stretch a bit, locate a copy of LOL. If you want 94 minutes of mindless light entertainment, So Undercover fits the bill and should play pretty well with former Hannah Montana fans who are ready for slightly edgier, PG-13 fare.